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I am the person who asked for this thread. I took time off for winter break but am having trouble getting back into the swing of things now weeks later and I think it's chronic burnout. I've already taken enough time off that I don't think more will help. Any advice appreciated!

been there, sort of

I don't have advice, but can share my personal experience: what helped me with my job-market burnout was the support I got from the department. What made me tired was the feeling that I can't reach my goal despite doing my best. The department people helped reinstate confidence in me which reinvigorated me to some extent. I hope you get the support you need (in addition to the advice you will get from the next person)!


This is not particular to the job-market stress, but I have found these things very helpful:

1) having someone to check in with every Monday with a plan for the week. (I've been checking in with my check-in buddy for something like four years now, and our google sheet of weekly tasks is now a neat journal of our career arcs!)

2) Add a meditation break mid-afternoon. Younger me sure rolls my eyes at this, but now-me loves it. We all get tired in the afternoon and frustrated and the rest. So I schedule 20-30 minutes for meditation. And, we're project people, so what I do is just work through the free 7-week course here https://palousemindfulness.com, over and over.

3) Have compassion with yourself! You probably are struggling a bit, and you have done an _incredible_ amount of work, under bizarre and rough emotional conditions. See yourself in the third person, and give yourself some credit and also some sympathy! Even go through the effort of saying (maybe mentally) some cheerleading to yourself in the third person.

(I need to go cleanse my mind out with some mid-80s Metallica after all that woo.)

know it all

I think you should reduce the demands on yourself. You should only focus on your dissertation. Work on the job market next year, and you certainly do not need to begin new research. Until you are a PhD the dissertation should be your focus.


FWIW and at the risk of giving really obvious advice going on the job market as ABD is almost a requirement these days but also really difficult.

Unless and until your dissertation has a firm defense date, the job market doesn't really matter all that much.

You can't have much success on the latter without the former.


My main advice would be to do something every day, even if it is only a very small thing, that nourishes the non-philosopher parts of you. This could be: making yourself something delicious to eat, reading a novel, doing yoga, having a good conversation with that important long-distance friend, etc.

Here is why I think that this is so important. One of the most exhausting things about the job market is that your success on it can feel like a measure of your success as a person, even if you reject that idea at the level of conscious reflection. And so it is crucial to remind yourself that you are much more than an aspiring professional philosopher. You are also, for instance, a lover of good food, a devoted friend, etc. If you deliberately invest in these aspects of yourself, you will identify more strongly with them, and the job market will hopefully come to feel less existentially fraught.

Also, as you ease back into philosophical research, it might help to start with the really good stuff. When I've felt burnt-out, nothing made it worse like chipping away methodically at the post-2010, "cutting-edge" stuff that I felt I needed to read in order to be up-to-date. I've had much better luck getting out of the philosophy doldrums when I start by letting myself read stuff only by authors I really love reading, even if their relevance to my research project is tenuous at best.

Best of luck to you, and congratulations on having nearly completed a job market cycle---it's a real accomplishment, no matter the outcome.

Madeline MS

Here are some things that help me.

First, I made a list of easily completed tasks that make me feel better. I keep this as a pinned Note on my phone. The list includes things like completing one household chore, doing some cardio, or talking to a friend. Your list may be different! But they often involve doing things I am lowkey procrastinating on, and which are even unpleasant - like saying "no" to a student or asking someone for a favor.

Second, developing a routine or habit can help a lot. If I know what I'm doing at a given time of day, and how long I'll be doing it for, this helps me switch tasks as well as start them. I used a paper planner for this, but there are plenty of good systems.

Third, sometimes new research is invigorating. Not all the time! But sometimes it is a source of genuine pleasure and delight. So be on the lookout for those opportunities.

Fourth, if you're ABD and still have funding, keeping that in mind can help. (It always helped me to remember, in a pinch, my department probably still needed me next year - and if they didn't, someone else on campus would.) It could also help to remember that the jobs for which ABD candidates are most competitive will probably be posted in the next few months.

Fifth, if you have interviews, you've had a successful job market year. It's bonkers that this could be true and mean you don't get a job. But them's the breaks.

One foot in, one foot out

I was completely burnt out from the academic job market in spring/summer 2020. At that point, I decided to take some time to think about what I want out of work. (I also sought treatment for depression/anxiety, which has made a big difference also.) I set everything academic to the side for a while and focused on working out what other paths might be open to me. I looked really seriously into pivoting out of academia and got very close to an offer for a post-ac job. In the end, I was offered a very good postdoc and decided to take it. But having done the reflection and networking, I feel much more secure just by knowing that I have other options, which helped prevent burnout for me in the last two academic hiring cycles.

There were two main things I found helpful to doing this. One was reading post-ac career stories and post-ac career advice books (such as _So What Are You Going to Do With That?_ by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius). But more helpful was doing some informational interviews with people I found on LinkedIn and Twitter who are doing things that sounded interesting.

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